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Supporting Others

How can I support a friend who has experienced an assault?

  • Remain Calm. While you may be experiencing shock, outrage, or fear for your friend, it is important to keep your feelings in check and remain a calm presence for the victim.
  • Believe the Victim. Make it clear that you believe that the assault happened and that the assault is not the victim’s fault. Do not ask questions such as “why were you alone with him?” or “why were you drinking?” which may put the victim on the defensive. Remember that no matter what the circumstances, the victim is not to blame for the assault.
  • Give the Victim Control. Allow her to make decisions about what to do next. Offer alternatives, but don’t tell her what to do.
  • Let the Victim Express Feelings. Allow her to express whatever she needs to express. There may be anger, sadness, or even silence. Just be there to listen.
  • Assure the Victim of Your Friendship. The victim needs to know that whatever happened, your friendship will remain intact.
  • Maintain Confidentiality. Let the victim decide who will know about the assault.
  • Encourage Counseling. Give the victim information about the University Counseling Center or other resources. Let the victim decide whether or not to go.
  • Be Patient. Individuals recover from trauma at their own pace and in their own way. Never tell a victim to “get over it.”